Developer: Kitfox Games
Publisher: Kitfox Games
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux
Moon Hunters is a game that I’ve kept a close eye on for quite some time, but one that I’d decided I would play on the Playstation Vita rather than PC or console. Something about the game’s replayability appealed for those long commutes in the morning, so it felt like a perfect game to pick up and play whilst on the go.
Unfortunately, the Playstation Vita version of the game ended up getting cancelled, so it went off my radar for a bit. However, it’s now available on the Nintendo Switch, finally giving me the opportunity to get my portable fix of some Moon Hunters action. It’s been worth the wait too, with the game offering a charming little action-RPG experience that has kept pulling me back in to unravel the secrets of its mysterious world.
Moon Hunters takes place in Issaria, a world where people worship the Moon Goddess and celebrate the rise of the moon. When the moon doesn’t rise, a new threat hits the world and it’s up to you to stop it. You’ve got a time-limit though with only a few days to change the course of events, but also plenty of obstacles standing in your way: the biggest of which might just happen to be your own personality…
Moon Hunters is designed to be played multiple times, with each playthrough only taking around an hour to get through depending on the decisions you make. There’s a decent amount of variety to be found each time too, with the narrative changing up based upon who you encounter and how you react to them. It’s a fun twist on your standard narrative that sees the game live up to the developer’s billing of Moon Hunters being like a ‘personality test’.
Everything about the world of Moon Hunters is randomly generated, with Issaria being completely different to navigate through each time you play. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll be seeing a lot of the same environment styles, but their layouts and what you’ll find within them will change each time.
Besides the locales changing up, you’ll also find yourself facing different events on each playthrough too. You’ll meet different characters in Issaria that the player can interact with and react to in a variety of different ways, with each interaction affecting your character’s personality. Some of these decisions you make might seem insignificant at times, but they can have a lasting effect on both your character and the overall narrative – there are multiple endings to see unfold, so you’ll never know if your actions might give you a happy ending or a more disastrous one.
When you begin playing Moon Hunters you’re able to choose what class of character you want to be as well as their origins. Each class plays a little differently and often find themselves facing different challenges too, so there’s certainly something unique on offer that justifies playing through the game multiple times. You’ll also unlock extra characters by progressing through the game, so there’s plenty of different options available to keep you coming back to Moon Hunters for some time.
You can also level up your character’s stats throughout gameplay by camping, which is an interesting system itself given that it allows you to decide what task you want to perform at night that’ll affect your stats in varying ways. It felt unique and, despite the system never feeling overly complicated, showed one of the many clever ideas that Moon Hunters offers.
It’s not just through camping that your character will change though, but also with the choices you make and how you react to different situations. You’ll gain traits based upon your decisions, and with such a plethora of different events and choices to witness through Moon Hunters, you’ll continually see your character’s personality change and expand (and also affect the narrative).
Moon Hunters features simple combat mechanics that never really push the player too much. You’ve got your standard attack which is efficient at taking out individual enemies and a stronger attack with a larger area of effect for those bigger groups. You’ve also got a little teleportation/dash move that’ll allow you to quickly zoom out of reach of an enemy’s attack or zip around the battlefield quicker. Each character class you can play as has their own unique combat abilities so you’ll feel a difference as you play through as each one, though the core mechanics of the game’s combat system typically stay the same throughout.
However, the combat could actually lose a fair bit of its challenge quite quickly. You gain opals from completing quests and defeating enemies that you can use to improve your character, but it’s so easy to become over-powered that most enemies end up becoming a cakewalk to take down. Add to that the fact that the combat mechanics are quite simple anyway, and you’ll quickly find that it can be a little boring simply steamrolling through everything the game has to throw at you.
The game also has some incredibly long load times, so there’ll certainly be instances where you won’t be able to help but feel a little frustrated. I had a bad feeling that I’d be waiting through some long loading sequences when the game took over a minute to start up to begin with, and unfortunately it does carry over to the main experience too. It’s not bad enough to completely ruin the game for you, but it’s certainly noticeable.
Moon Hunters features co-op play for up to four players, allowing you to head through the adventure with the help of some friends. It’s a nice touch and much like other games on the platform works perfectly with the game’s Joy-Con controllers, allowing you to hit Issaria with a friend quite easily. It can be guilty of making what is already an easy game even easier though, but when you’re simply enjoying playing it with a friend you probably won’t even notice it as much anyway.
Moon Hunters’ blend of a clever narrative that the player actually has a say in and its simple combat mechanics make for a charming little experience that offers something a little different to the norm. It was almost like a ‘choose your own adventure’ book at times, with every playthrough I had always feeling different to the last.
Unfortunately, some unbalanced combat mechanics that see you becoming over-powered quick and some long load times do prevent the game from striving towards greatness. Moon Hunters hits the mark on so many counts, but those two issues certainly stood out by the time I was on my third playthrough of the game.
They don’t do enough to stop Moon Hunters being easily recommendable though and I’d definitely suggest that Switch owners craving a creative little adventure give it a try. It might not blow you away from a gameplay perspective, but its chain of tricky decisions will certainly make you question how much of an effect your actions might have on the world.